|Statue of Ignatius J. Reilly in New Orleans|
A Confederacy of Dunces has been reviewed all over the place, so I won't spend much time on the story here. I'll just touch on one recurring motiff that made me think--the well-meaning, yet out-of-touch helper who only makes things worse. Myrna Minkoff, Reilly's girlfriend/nemesis is a socially conscious New Yorker who
had stopped throughout the rural South to teach Negroes folk songs she had learned at the Library of Congress. The Negroes, it seems, preferred more contemporary music and turned up their transistor radios loudly and defiantly whenever Myrna began one of her lugubrious dirges.Mrs. Levy, wife of the owner of Levy Pants, refuses to allow Miss Trixie, an aged senile employee, to retire because she worries that Miss Trixie will fall into despair if she is not contributing to society. Really though, Miss Trixie wants nothing more than to retire, and spends her days at work napping, making bitter remarks, and hoarding bits of paper and foil.
Ignatius engages in this kind of activity more than once. He stages a "Crusade for Moorish Dignity" at the pants factory where he works, and he tries to organize New Orleans's gay community to infiltrate global government and military power structures in movement to "Save the World through Degeneracy."
Potential readers, be warned. A Confederacy of Dunces contains foul language including multiple f-bombs, and treats various sexual topics, though not lasciviously. In my opinion Toole, describes immorality without reveling in it, and the good in the book outweighs the bad. Christians sometimes jump in to "help" too quickly, and this book demonstrates the danger of that behavior with humor and compassion.
You can find A Confederacy of Fools on Amazon. As of this writing, the kindle edition is $3.99, the new paperback edition is $10.20 and you can buy it used for as little as a penny plus shipping. If you've read it, let me know what you think in the comments.